Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"Crumb"-y Bible Stories...

So, maybe I have not given my children as robust of a religious education as I received myself.  This was clear to me when I made some offhand comment about not wanting my kids to end up like Caine and Abel.  The boys (and their friends who were in the car with us) gave me completely blank stares.  When I pushed them on the story details, the best I got was the line, "is this sorta related to that Adam and Eve story?"  uh.  ya.   sorta.

 So... since then, I have been on the lookout for some sort of illustrated bible stories books.  I have seen a couple, but they have either been a bit too junior, or a bit too advanced.  And then, last week, at the North Finchley library, while looking through the "Graphic Novels" section, I hit the jackpot:  "The Book of Genesis - Illustrated by Robert Crumb".  I couldn't resist!   How can you NOT pick up a book that has a warning on the cover, saying "Adult Supervision Recommended for Minors"!  That makes sense to me.  It is, afterall, a tale of sex, violence, mayhem, and murder!  :-) 

So... for those of you not already fans of Robert Crumb, you can go check out the official website. Even if you don't think you know him, if you were alive in the 70s, you probably saw his stuff.  This piece, for example?   He is one of the fathers of the underground comic movement, creator of "Fritz the Cat" and other such oddities.  The guy is a bit strange... certainly, I saw the wierdest biopic on the guy back in the 1990s, just called "Crumb".  Crumb also is a character in a nice movie with Paul Giamatti called "American Splendor".

All this to say, Duncan and I managed the first 9 chapters!  He is now 'au courant' with respect to the line, "am I my brother's keeper?".  The book is a riot.  It is the language of the King James Bible, with the bizarre artistic stylings of Crumb.  I can't imagine a better way to trick my kids into getting some religious/cultural background!  :-)  So far, Duncan is most upset that Abel would have sacrificed a lamb... SO UNFAIR to the lamb, he says.  He also think God over-reacted a bit in the garden of eden. After all, he says, it was only an apple!  And for sure, the flood was a bit much... though of course, Duncan adds, the penguins probably didn't have to go in the ark, since icebergs float, so the penguins were probably fine.


  1. Can hardly wait until your kids get to Abraham going to sacrifice Isaac as God wanted him to do. That should scare them into good behaviour for an hour or so! Although thinking about it now, that never worked for me. And in the Sacrifice of Isaac story ... again, for Duncan, the poor lamb who eventually has its life ended. Gotta feel sorry for the lamb.

  2. I don't know if it is too late to talk about this book or not, but since I read your post, I have been thinking about examples of famous brothers in the Old Testament, and wondering how Crumb illustrates their relationships. For example ... how about Moses and Aaron. Aaron did the speaking for Moses, since Moses had a lisp that prevented him from being a really good speaker. So Aaron did the talking, but I think Moses was the brains behind the pair. A nice example of two brothers who helped each other. On the other hand, it was have sucked to have been their sister, Miriam. In the end, one of them got mad at her for speaking ill of him and gave her leprosy, even though she had spent all of those hours out tending him in the bull rushes when he was little and in a basket.

    Moses must have had his reasons ... more than appears in the text. Does Crumb say anything about that with his illustrations?


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